Bridging Maps of Personality

There a several popular models of personality strengths that map similar areas. The best way to determine similarities or differences in the models is to take a ‘deep dive’ down the response item level to see what each assessment is actually measuring. When there is great similarity in the items we can speculate that the same dimensions are being measured even though the labels are different.

As a DISC practitioner I have spent the past 35 years comparing assessments in response to client questions. When a client is already using a model it is my task to help them bridge their existing understanding to my model of choice, DISC. Most people only need one model to navigate their relationships, their roles and their environments. While DISC is my preferred methodology, being ‘fluent’ in the other languages of personality/behavior/style/strengths increases my effectiveness, just as my knowledge of other languages and cultural norms increases my effectiveness when working globally.

In the past, I was asked most often to build a bridge between MBTI and DISC. This is a fairly difficult task because the two maps, DISC and MBTI, only have a partial overlap. Both measure extraversion and introversion fairly directly. The MBTI feeling-thinking and intuition-sensing dimensions can be extrapolated from DISC indirectly, since these dimensions are not directly measured. DISC does not measure the P-J dimension because it is a cognitive orientation rather than a personality trait. The P-J dimension is measured in the Inscape/Wylie Team profile, however.


SDI Strengths Deployment Inventory

Some of my clients had used SDI, Strengths Deployment Inventory, and asked me to build a bridge between the DISC and SDI for their leadership training program. There is actually a good fit between the two models because they have the same derivative root in the work done in the 1940s and 1950s. By flipping the orientation of the SDI model I was able to align it with DISC in a way that my clients could adapt their previous learning to DISC.

SDI Model with DISC Correspondences

Gallup StrengthsFinder

From 2000-2006, I worked on a project for an automotive manufacturer where the model of personality they used was Gallup’s Strengthfinder. Many of the teammembers on the project knew of my long history as a DISC practitioner so they asked me to build a bridge from Gallup’s 34 Strengths to the DISC behavioral tendencies. At that time, I was also developing the circumplex model of DISC, first published by Inscape as the Indra (Indepth Relationship Assessment) assessment. During the development of Indra, I was working with a very large response item set and had a chance to compare our items with the Gallup StrengthFinder items. I discovered that clearly we were measuring the same dimensions of personality. The difference was that Gallup “rolled the data up” into 34 clusters which they labeled “strengths’ and we rolled our data up into 16 clusters which we called behavioral preferences or tendencies.

DISC Indra Research Report

Based on this understanding, I created a hypothetical overlay between Gallup Strengthsfinder and the circumplex DISC model. I have not done the quantitative research to determine the actual correlations so this is just an image of the projected ‘correspondences’, creating for the purposes of bridging understanding from one model to another. I did have a chance to do some informal qualitative research by having a small population take both a DISC assessment and the Strengthsfinder, followed by one-on-one interviews to explore their perceptions about the two sets of interpretive results.

DISc and Strengthsfinder
Proposed Correspondences Between DISC and Gallup Strengthsfinder


Philosophically, the two approaches are congruent because the emphasis is on maximizing strengths and building engagement by increasing the amount of time in each day that a person is able to use their strengths.


One of the most popular models of personality today is the OCEAN model. The acronym stands for five key elements of personality: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. NEO-PI one of the most widely used assessments for this model. During the development of the circumplex DISC, I spent a lot of time looking at the similarities and difference between OCEAN and DISC. More recently, Mark Scullard of Wiley/Inscape conducted research that correlated the two assessments. I had speculated about the correspondences between the two models and was delighted when Scullard’s results confirmed my hypothesis.


Possible Correspondences Between OCEAN and DISC
Possible Correspondences Between OCEAN and DISC


Having a strong correspondence between the two models is valuable because much of the research about personality in the workplace is done using the NEO-PI or OCEAN model. We can extrapolate from those results to DISC applications with some degree of confidence due to the similarities of the two models. That being said, there are two dimensions the are measured directly in NEO-PI but not in DISC. The two dimensions, Openness and Neuroticism, were not part of the original DISC assessment for different reasons. Neuroticism was purposely excluded because DISC is a workplace application not a clinical application and it was felt that measuring Neuroticism was not appropriate for a non clinical application. Openness is more of a cognitive orientation and therefore not something to be included in a more “behavioral” assessment.


Possible Correspondences Between NEO-PI Facets and DISC

All of these models can be used to build Emotional Intelligence (EQ) by increasing self-awareness and other-awareness. Developing self-regulation skills and relationship building skills is facilitated by having the understanding of individual differences provided in the models. Training and coaching can provide the necessary skill development. All of us have an emotional ‘setpoint’ or predisposition. The Facets of the NEO-PI corresponding to the DISC Dimensions can be used to understand individual emotional starting points for self-regulation skill building and relationship skill building.



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